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"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect."
---Mark Twain ---

Diving off a PEI Beach

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Wednesday 20 August 2003
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Ellen & I spent the morning working on our books and such, then went for a swim.  Bill and Faye came at about four and we had another swim, a boat ride and supper, then called it a day.

Bill is a ham operator (VE3BEK), as am I (VE6CFK), and he showed me the IRLP links that permit instant coverage of hundreds of regions of the world by walkie-talkie.  I have not been very active in ham radio, since I got onto the internet in about 1992, but I still hold an advanced license.

Wednesday .. Clearing in the morning. High 22./ Tonight .. Clear. Wind south 20 km/h diminishing to light this evening. Low 9

Thursday 21 August 2003
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One month until the fall equinox, and we can see the days shortening.  The temperatures are still warm, though and Alberta is in drought again, I hear.  We'll be heading there soon, and we have not decided whether to drive or fly.  We're inclined towards driving at this point, but it is 33 hours of highway from here, and the thought does not appeal.

Today .. Sunny. High 29. UV index 6 or moderate. / Tonight .. Clear. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming light near midnight. Low 13. / Normals for the period .. Low 8. High 22.

Friday 22 August 2003
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We decided to drive home, rather than fly, and visit friends along the way, and drove out to Whitefish Falls in the afternoon. Bill Picked us up at the dock and we arrived at the Piirto camp on TP2300 a few minutes later. After snorleling, swimming and a sauna, we had supper and called it a day.

Today .. Sunny with cloudy periods. 30 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. High 26. UV index 5 or moderate. / Tonight .. Cloudy periods. 30 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms this evening. Wind east 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low 10. / Normals for the period .. Low 9. High 23.

Saturday 21 August 2003
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We awoke, had breakfast, packed, then we all crossed to the mainland and went for a hike up into the quarry and on up to Willisville. I was feeling a bit stiff, and the walk was just what I needed.

After the walk, we bid the Wickendens farewell, and drove to the Sault. We arrived at Piirtoniemis' around six and spent the night. Since Ken's parents were there, and the spare room taken, we drew the motorhome for accommodation. A motorhome makes an ideal visitors' suite, and we were right at home.

Today .. Sunny. Wind becoming south 20 km/h. High 26. UV index 6 or moderate. / Tonight .. Clear. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low 11. / Normals for the period .. Low 10. High 24.

Sunday 23 August 2003
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After breakfast, we drove west, headed for the Lakehead. We took our time, and by around six we found ourselves at Terrace Bay. We'd always wanted to explore this area and checked into a motel for the night.

Tonight .. Cloudy periods. Low 5. / Normals for the period .. Low 7. High 21.

Monday 24 August 2003
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In the morning, we drove on towards Kenora.  We had decided to take our time and explore a bit.  We stopped to explore a canyon near Terrace Bay, then again at Ouimet Canyon.  We then proceeded to Thunder Bay to visit the Finnish section.  My wife was born in a Finnish community in Canada and her family still speak Finnish and follow some of the Finnish customs.  We found several sauna shops there and plan to get a steam bath stove from one of the shops there.

From there, we went to Kakabeka Falls and wound up at Ignace at supper time.  Our meal took two hours and we called it a day. 

The motels we have been finding along the Trans-Canada Highway all have phones, but their suitability for internet connection are variable.  Sometimes I get a 50 kps transfer, and other times I have trouble holding a 19.2 connection.  The last few days have been like that, and, at Ignace, a Nortel system would not allow me to even get a dial tone on the computer, although the phone itself worked okay for voice calls.

Monday .. Sunny with cloudy periods. High 22. UV index 5 or moderate. / Tonight .. Cloudy periods. Low 7. / Tuesday .. A mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h this afternoon. High 25. UV index 5 or moderate.

Tuesday 25 August 2003
7 more months until Christmas
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We arrived at Cheryl's around eight AM.  Cheryl is Ellen's roommate from university and they have kept in touch over the years.  We spent the day visiting and, since her daughter and children were also visiting, we stayed at the Travelodge.  We lucked out and got a very good rate and a lovely room with a king-sized bed.

We had supper with Cheryl, her mom, Rick and Joanne and with Kelley and her boys, then turned in at our hotel for a good night's sleep.

Tuesday night .. A few clouds. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming northwest 20 near midnight. Low 9.

Wednesday 27 August 2003
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We decided to stay another day, and spent the day downtown and on a cruise.  I found the library and looked up Lemon-aid. While in Sault Saint Marie, Ken had been speaking highly of the publications.  I had not really thought very highly of them, but it was many years since I had heard Edmonston on the radio and obviously Phil and the Automobile Protection Association have come a long way.  Having been present when my mother bought a car, and having bought her trade-in from her, I was curious.

We then took a cruise on the M.S. Kenora.  I'd seen lake of the Woods from a speedboat and from a windsurfer in the past, but thought that the ladies would enjoy the ride.

Wednesday .. A mix of sun and cloud. 60 percent chance of afternoon showers or thunderstorms. Wind northwest 20 km/h. High 21. UV index 4 or moderate.
Tonight .. Cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers. Risk of early evening thunderstorms. Wind north 20 km/h. Low 8.

Thursday 28 August 2003
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We arose early and, after a quick breakfast, hit the road west.  It had rained all night and continued to rain heavily as far as Indian Head.  We made it to swift Current and found a motel.

Thursday .. Cloudy. 60 percent chance of showers. Wind north 20 km/h. High 15./ Normals for the period .. Low 7. High 21.

Friday 29 August 2003
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We're home in Swalwell. We started out at 9:30 and arrived home at noon.  We are now catching up on the mail and on paying bills.  I'm hoping to get the site more up to date in the next few days.

I expect that I'll get back to writing about bees a bit more in the next while.  For one thing, I guess I'll have to check and see how the hives are doing.  Have they made honey?  How are the mite levels.

One thing that struck me recently is how, after border closure, we in Alberta have come to accept the CHC party line that overwintering bees is the only way to go. 

Alberta beekeeping was founded on package imports, and until the mid-1980s, entirely interdependent with Western US beekeeping.  Acceptance of border closure, and agreement to permit the prohibition, was an emergency measure, and expected to be temporary.  Alberta beekeepers knew they were going to have a much tougher life, but at that time, no one knew if the mites would destroy the North American bee industry.  Delaying the arrival of mites by a prohibition seemed a reasonable measure, at least until we had an idea how serious a threat they were and if they could be managed.  Alberta beekeepers decided -- by a narrow margin -- to support a temporary prohibition on US imports.  What we did not realize was that Alberta's hardship would continue long after the problems were solved in the US, and that Alberta's pain and economic loss, and legitimate efforts to mitigate the damage would be the object of scorn by by their eastern 'neighbours'.

When I started keeping bees in Alberta, 30 years ago, it seems to me that many, if not most commercial prairie beekeepers bought packages each spring, and gassed bees annually in the fall.  They ran a simple, profitable, seasonal business.  I preferred to winter, and others did, as well, but was quite unsuccessful at it after I quit running two-queen colonies.  I tried the package bee approach for a few years myself, and know how it works.  In recent years, I have managed to have good success in overwintering, but have to acknowledge that, at any time, I could have had a complete failure and have found myself unable to obtain replacements, as so many did this year.  

It would be interesting to get my hands on historical records of how many bees were bought annually, how many were gassed, how many were wintered, etc., before Albertans were deprived of choice.  What will happen when the US border opens?  It will some day soon.  I imagine a few Albertans will go back to gassing or selling off bees in the fall and buying replacement bees annually, but most will winter bees and buy make-up packages too.  Bees are a valuable resource, and we have learned how to winter bees, so many will continue to do so, although some beekeepers are better and luckier at it than others.  Some regions and management methods are not compatible with reliable wintering, it seems.

Previously I mentioned 'comparative advantage' as being the reason for the traditional trade in bees and honey between Alberta and California, and behind Alberta's strong motivation to return to 'normal' as soon as possible.  Comparative advantage is an underlying principle justifying the worldwide move towards free trade.

I came across this quote in an essay:

" This is called the Law of Comparative Advantage, which was developed in the early 1800s by the great English economist David Ricardo. In short, this is a principle that states that individuals, firms, regions or nations can gain by specializing in the production of goods that they produce cheaply (that is, at a low opportunity cost) and exchanging those goods for other desired goods for which they are high-opportunity-cost producers.

This is a very neat and tidy law, and is true for all places and all times, in capitalist as well as socialist countries. But it has a caveat.

When that comparative advantage changes, those directly affected in the negative will not be happy. If it is your job that is lost to China or to a robot, you are the one who must find a new avenue of support.  

Our situation is a textbook example of how comparative advantage works to the advantage of both partners in real life, California raises large populations of bees better and earlier than Alberta can, and Alberta can produce much more and better honey with far fewer bees and less management than California can. California needs honey, Alberta needs bees.  Perfect -- except that protectionist forces have intervened to disrupt trade.

California can also out-compete Australia and New Zealand on price, quality and timeliness.  Canadian suppliers, being at a great disadvantage due to climate, also have difficulty supplying quality bees in quantity, or in the reliable and timely fashion required by commercial beekeepers.

Today .. Sunny. High 22. UV index 5 or moderate. / Tonight .. Clear. Low 4. Risk of frost. / Normals for the period .. Low 6. High 20.

Saturday 30 August 2003
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of the Day

For those who wonder where the world economy is headed, Alan Greenspan made a very interesting and candid speech recently.

Here's another interesting article: Knightian Uncertainty and Home Bias

Today, we just recovered from our trip.  I began the job of reconciling accounts and working through messages.  Meijers came over for supper.  Apparently they had a decent crop, and good results from their pollination work. 

After supper, we went out and looked at my bees.  Some had honey, but most are just getting by.  A few look dead.  We purposely split them to avoid honey production, and did not check queens before we left, six weeks ago, so that is to be expected.  When we split, 30 became 71, and that did the trick.  I think we may have about 20 to 30 boxes to extract, and that is about it. 

Meijers borrowed some sticky boards to do a mite survey.  We'll have to do the same and decide if we need to treat.  one strip of apistan each spring has worked for us so far, but the trick is to keep checking.  We do a sticky board each fall as the brood rearing tapers off and see what the natural mite fall is.  So far, we normally only find one or two mites a day, max, and that is no threat, but each year is different.

Today .. Sunny. High 27. UV index 5 or moderate. / Tonight .. Clear. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming light. Low 10. / Normals for the period .. Low 6. High 20.

Sunday 31 August 2003
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I spent the morning working on the books.  Our phone line went out of service last night, so the Internet was out of reach until mid-day, when service resumed. 

In mid-afternoon, Jean and Chris came to visit and stay the night.

Today : Sunny. High 27. UV index 5 or moderate.
Tonight : A few clouds. Wind northeast 20 km/h diminishing to light this evening. Low 8.
Monday : Sunny with cloudy periods. High 21.
Tuesday : Sunny. Low 6. High 25.
Wednesday : Sunny. Low 10. High 27.
Thursday : A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of showers. Low 9. High 22.
Normals for the period : Low 6. High 20.

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